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THE Nooner for August 6, 2017

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GOV: Assemblymember Travis Allen hopes to ride the gas tax repeal to the governorship, reports Martin Wisckol in the OC Register.

As I wrote before and as is cited in the article, I just don't think that any of the statewide offices, particularly governor. Let's look at how the last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was elected in the recall of Gray Davis in 2003. 

Davis was, fairly or unfairly, recalled on three major policy issues in my opinion:

  1. The energy gamesmanship in the national markets that led to rolling blackouts.

  2. The vehicle license fee ("car tax") partial restoration after it had been cut in the flush budgets of 1998-2001, but required the state general fund to distribute funds to cities and counties which normally received the VLF. The partial restoration was part of a "trigger" included in the budget because of lagging revenues.

  3. Drivers' licenses for undocumented residents.

It was just too much for voters to swallow in a tough economy. 

Then, there were the political dynamics. Gray Davis was never the most charasmatic of politicians, and I think he'd it admit that. He was a roll-up your sleeves and try to solve problems. If you've seen some of his post governship forums that he has done with Pete Wilson, you recognize that Davis and Wilson are very similar.

Voters weren't happy with the gubernatorial election in 2002 and the energy crisis and car tax had already become issues of ire. (Drivers' licenses weren't approved until September 2003. Incumbent Davis was the only legitimate Democrat on the primary ballot, in contrast with a battle royale in 1998 among Democrats (Al Checchi, Davis, and Jane Harman). In 2002, the GOP primary was between Bill Jones, Richard Riordan, and Bill Simon, with Simon proceeding to the general. 

Let's say that, while there was a fair amount of voter dissatisfaction in November 2002, the campaign was not all that spirited.

Voter angst continued into 2003, and just three months after the 2002 general election, a recall process was initiated by GOP activist Ted Costa. The biggest financial supporter of the signature gathering qualification effort was Darrell Issa, who contributed over $1.8 million for the effort. Other committees were also drumming up support, but it was Issa's money that enabled the qualification, which was certified July 23, 2003 and the election was set for October 7. As with all recall elections, there would be a two-question ballot: 1) Shall Gray Davis be recalled from the office of Governor? And, 2) If Governor Gray Davis is recalled, who shall replace him?

It was widely known it would be a huge field. So, who could rise above the clouds and bring Republican, Independent, and cross-over Democratic support on question number 2, knowing that it would be difficult to persuade prominent Democrats to challenge a sitting Democratic governor? (Or course, then-Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamante had a "No on recall, Yes on me" meessage.)

The answer came only ten days later when Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he was running in an appearance on the Jay Leno show. Of the 135 candidates that ran, it's fair to say that only Schwarzenegger could sit in that chair next to Jay's desk. The recall was almost assured that night, and Republicans had a path to recapture the governor's corner office after five years.

However, 2018 is not 2003. The state's economy is strong and should be through next year. Jerry Brown is very popular, which likely will carry-over to any of the top three candidates--Chiang, Newsom or Villaraigosa. (Eastin is also legitimate, but the others have much more momentum.) Democratic registration has held steady (+1%) since 2003, while Republcian registration has declined (-10.5%), with a big shift to No Party Preference (+8.5%).

That's the basis of my belief that only with a perfect storm (and more) that brought a Republican to the governor's office in 2003, neither Allen's plan to ride the gas tax increase or John Cox's argument that California's business climate is failing are not enough to overcome the other factors that make it a very steep climb for the GOP to capture the governor's office--and likely every other statewide office.

 

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Upward Mobility at Cal State LA

 

Continuing on our gubernatorial theme, this morning Jerry Brown was on Meet the Press. In looking at the decline in the number of Democratic governors, he cited the funding by the Koch network and the demonization and regional failures of the Affordable Care Act. 

He supports efforts to limit federal crackdowns on immigration, but signaled he's not sure he's ready to sign the current version of the "sanctuary state" bill. The LAT's Chris Megerian reports

Asked about his future plans he said "it is time to go back to the ranch," referring to his family's Colusa County ranch where he likes to spend his downtime. Chuck Todd followed up "Does that mean you'll never run again?" Brown responded "Never say never.'

$$$: In his weekly column, the LAT's John Myers reports that no interest collectively spends more money lobbying Sacramento than local governments. "Quarterly lobbying reports filed last week show that local and regional governments and their elected officials collectively continue to outpace all other branches of California’s influence industry. Through the first six months of 2017, these government entities together spent more than $24.3 million on lobbying in Sacramento."

Anyway, that's enough for a Sunday...time to get over to farmers' market.

 

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